Top tips on how to get the most out of mentoring
by Mihaela Jucan, Junior Marketing Executive on 25 February 2016
Many successful entrepreneurs and business leaders have noted the importance and the role mentoring has played in helping them identify opportunities, achieve their business goals and sound out new ideas.
As Steve Jobs said, “My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.”
Mentoring can come in various shapes and forms. Whether it’s from family and friends with experience in starting a business, or from experienced entrepreneurs and investors, mentoring can give you perspective and help you in the decision making process. Just remember that family and friends aren’t always as objective as someone without direct involvement into your business.
As a Delivery Partner for the UK Government backed Start Up Loans scheme, Outset Finance provides up to 12 months’ free mentoring support to clients who have secured finance for their start up business.
Outset Finance client and Start Up Loan recipient, Lucy Abraham said, “Having someone external to the business to talk through issues and bounce ideas off is so important. The people close to you can have a tendency to see your business through rose tinted glasses; which is kind and supportive, but can be detrimental.”
A mentor can be an excellent support tool for your business, so it’s important to make the most out of it! Here are five of our top tips for building an effective relationship with your mentor:
1. Be open and flexible
Prepare a list of ideas you want to discuss with your mentor prior to your meeting. It can make your session far more productive, although it’s important to be flexible and open to discuss other ideas that the mentor considers practical and constructive.
2. Help your mentor to help you
Take initiative and help your mentor. Ask specific questions to help your mentor guide you in the right direction or advise you on the readiness of taking on new challenges. Often bringing your forecasts along can help your mentor give you the best advice!
3. Avoid building your expectations
There’s a certain level of support and advice a mentor can offer to your business. Don’t expect your mentor to solve your problems or tell you what is best for your business. To support you, the mentor may lay out options, put your specific situation in perspective, offer you feedback or identify opportunities and ways you can position your work to meet your goals.
4. Develop SMART goals
It is fundamental that you are completely honest with your mentor about your goals and every aspect of your business. Therefore making your business goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound can help get there swiftly.
5. Bring your expertise to the table
Your mentor knows that you have a certain level of expertise and have done enough research in the industry you’re starting or running your business in. So don’t shy away from using your expertise in an effort to protect the mentor’s feelings; it is important to both give and take away from your mentoring session.
It is important to utilise your mentor’s talents and expertise to the fullest in order to make the most out of your mentoring. However, keep in mind that it’s a two-way relationship and as Steve Washington said, “you’ll only get what you put in.”
If you are a start up business owner and you’re looking to be matched with a mentor, register here to start your Start Up Loan application.